2017-18 Pen Pals Season Announcement

May 12, 2017

Friends of the Hennepin County Library is pleased to announce the 21st season of Pen Pals, the award winning and longest running literary series in the Twin Cities.

Friends of the Hennepin County Library is pleased to announce the 21st season of Pen Pals, the award-winning and longest-running literary series in the Twin Cities.

The 2017-18 season offers a range of literary personalities, including an Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award winning actor, two Pulitzer Prize winners, a Peabody Award winning journalist, and a National Book Award winner.

  • Alan Alda – Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award winning actor, author and director
    • Sept. 26, 2017, 7:30 PM  /  Sept. 27, 2017, 11 AM
  • Jennifer Egan – Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad
    • Oct. 26, 2017, 7:30 PM   /  Oct. 27, 2017, 11 AM
  • Dan Rather – Peabody Award winning journalist and longtime CBS Evening News anchor
    • Nov. 30, 2017, 7:30 PM  /  Dec. 1, 2017, 11 AM
  • Colson Whitehead – 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Underground Railroad
    • Feb. 1, 2018, 7:30 PM  /  Feb. 2, 2018, 11 AM
  • Jesmyn Ward – National Book Award winning author of Salvage the Bones
    •  May 3, 2018, 7:30 PM  /  May 4, 2018, 11 AM

Season subscriptions (starting at $160) will go on sale Monday, May 15, 2017. Subscribe by phone at 612-543-8112 (M - F, 9 AM - 4:30 PM), or mail in this order form. Season subscribers receive 20% savings.

Individual tickets ($40/$50) will go on sale Tuesday, August 1, 2017.

Proceeds benefit Friends of the Hennepin County Library (FHCL). FHCL members receive an additional discount of $10 per subscription or $5 per individual ticket.

Thanks to our many individual sponsors and corporate sponsors, including Standard Heating and Air Conditioning, RBC Wealth Management, and Eyebobs.

ABOUT PEN PALS: All Pen Pals programs are held at the Hopkins Center for the Arts — located at 1111 Mainstreet in Hopkins. Tickets are $40 -$50 (prices include all taxes and handling fees) and can be purchased online, or by calling 612-543-8112.


Friends of the Hennepin County Library builds awareness, appreciation and support for our world-class Hennepin County Library. Friends of HCL raises resources for vital library programs such as Homework Help and Teen Tech Squad, as well as initiatives like engaging readers of all ages, expanding early learning environments, and supporting kindergarten-readiness programs.

Alan Alda

September 26, 2017 - 7:30 pm

September 27, 2017 - 11 am 

Alan Alda has earned international recognition as an actor (most famously as Hawkeye Pierce on the classic television series M*A*S*H), author, and director. He has won seven Emmy Awards, received three Tony nominations, is an inductee of the Television Hall of Fame, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Aviator. Alda is an active member of the science community and founder of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. In his new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?, Alda shares powerful lessons from the science of communication, showing us how to build empathy and improve the way in which we talk and relate to each other.

  •  Each purchased ticket includes a copy of Mr. Alda’s latest book!


Jennifer Egan

October 26, 20167 - 7:30 pm

October 27, 2017 - 11 am 

Jennifer Egan is an acclaimed novelist, short story writer, and journalist. Her novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad, was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the LA Times Book Prize. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and McSweeney’s among others. Her much-anticipated novel, Manhattan Beach (October 2017), has been called “pitch perfect” and “darkly, ripplingly funny” by the New York Times Book Review.


Dan Rather

November 30, 2017 - 7:30 pm

December 1, 2017 - 11 am 

With a storied career spanning more than six decades, Dan Rather has earned his place as one of the world’s best-known journalists. He has interviewed every U.S. President since Eisenhower and, over that time, personally covered almost every major news event in the United States and around the world. Rather joined CBS News in 1962. In 1981, he assumed the position of Anchor and Managing Editor of the CBS Evening News—a post he held for 24 years. Rather is currently the president and CEO of News and Guts, an independent production company committed to bringing important stories to life in the new and evolving media landscape.

  •  Each purchased ticket includes a copy of Mr. Rather’s latest book!


Colson Whitehead

February 1, 2018 - 7:30 pm

February 2, 2018 - 11 am 

Colson Whitehead is the #1 New York Times Bestselling author of The Underground Railroad—winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Carnegie Medal for Fiction. Whitehead’s other works include The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and The Colossus of New York. His essays and fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, and Harper’s.


Jesmyn Ward

May 3, 2018 - 7:30 pm

May 4, 2018 - 11 am 

For Jesmyn Ward, her prose is personal. All three of her books—two novels and a memoir—are set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi where she was raised. Her novel, Salvage the Bones, won the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction. Her unflinching portrayals of young black men and women struggling to thrive in a South ravaged by poverty and natural disaster have been widely praised. Ward’s forthcoming novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, explores the bonds of family as tested by racism and poverty.